Cypress Creek Fire Department calls for May sales tax election citing need for new fire station, more personnel

Firefighters with the Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department train in the departmentu2019s four-story training tower on Cypress North Houston Road.

Firefighters with the Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department train in the departmentu2019s four-story training tower on Cypress North Houston Road.

Residents within Harris County Emergency Services District No. 13—the governmental entity that operates as the Cypress Creek Fire Department—will have a chance to vote this May on a ballot measure to allow the district to collect a percentage of sales tax revenue on goods sold within its boundaries.

Officials said the measure would help fund the construction of a fifth fire station in the southern portion of the district along with a new fire engine and the new personnel that would be needed to staff it.

The station’s construction is part of a larger effort by the district to drive down response times and improve service in the community, Fire Chief Richard Lieder said. Over the past five years, the district has shifted from an predominantly volunteer organization—with firefighters often responding from their houses to the station and then to the scene—to a combination of full-time and part-time employees and volunteers working 24/7 at four fire stations, he said.

If approved by voters, the measure would generate an estimated $1.1 million for the district annually, Lieder said. The estimated cost of the new fire station includes $400,000 for a loan payment for the land and construction, about $700,000 for a new engine and $835,000 per year for the 12 new personnel that would be required to keep the station staffed 24/7, he said.

“We’ll have to fund some of that from our existing property tax revenue, but with the combination of sales tax and what we have left over in property tax, we can make it work,” he said. “Without sales tax, it becomes pretty difficult to build and staff that fifth fire station.”

The new station will target the portion of the district to the southeast of Beltway 8 near the Sam Houston Race Park, an area that can be difficult to reach for firefighters at Station 24 on Perry Road, the next closest station, Lieder said.

The response rate standards set for ESD No. 13 by the National Fire Protection Association call for the district to have 15 firefighters on the scene within 9 minutes 90% of the time. The average response time for the district is 6 minutes and 40 seconds, Lieder said, but the drive time to incidents in the area south of the Beltway can be in excess of 14 minutes.

“The Gessner [Road] and Beltway 8 intersection is our main gateway into that part of the district, but traffic there gets notoriously bad at certain times of the day,” he said.

The area, which sat for many years as largely grassy fields, has also seen development pick up over the past few years, including new residential subdivisions, multi-story office buildings and warehouses that can be in excess of 500,000 square feet, Lieder said. Construction is underway on the Grand National Business Park, a project being planned on a 106-acre tract next to the Sam Houston Race Park.

“There’s a lot of demand for service down [there], and we are currently underserving that area,” Lieder said. “We’re probably down to the Sam Houston Race Park area at least once, many times twice a day, sometimes three times a day, for motor vehicle accidents.”

The fifth station would also have benefits districtwide, Lieder said. Right now, when the district has to respond to a structural fire, it has to dispatch firefighters from all four of its stations to meet NFPA standards, which leaves the rest of the district uncovered for a period of time, he said.

“With the addition of a fifth fire station in the district, we’ll dispatch four fire stations to the structural fire, and that will leave one of our fire stations—depending on where the fire is—in service,” he said. “We’ll then post that remaining engine company to kind of the geographic center of the district … so they will be available to respond immediately to any other calls that happen in the district.”

If approved, the measure would raise the sales tax rate on goods sold in the district's boundaries from 7.25% to 8.25%, but only in parts where the rate has not already been raised to the maximum amount by Limited Purpose Annexation agreements—agreements between local utility districts and the city of Houston that allow those entities to collect sales tax revenue without voter approval. ESD officials estimated that roughly 90% of the commercial areas in the district are already at the maximum sales tax rate and would not see an increase.

The May ballot measure would help keep the remaining available revenue in the local area, Lieder said.

ESD No. 13 put a similar measure to voters In 2017, but the measure was defeated. District officials said low turnout—only 168 people voted in the 2017 election—could have worked against them and said they are increasing voter outreach efforts this time around. Two open house events are set for April 23 and April 30 where residents can view maps and ask questions to command staff, Lieder said.

If the measure does not pass, Lieder said the district has also looked into relocating Station 22, currently on Cypress North Houston Road, to the underserved area. The neighborhoods served by Station 22 also have several stations operated by the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department nearby, whereas the neighborhoods south of Beltway 8 are not quickly accessed by partner fire departments, Lieder said.

“If we have to make a choice about allocation of limited resources, this is most probably how it would occur,” he said. “It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s what we would most probably have to do.”

Lieder emphasized that the May ballot measure deals strictly with sales tax, and property tax rates would not be affected. ESD No. 13's property tax rate is set at the maximum of $0.10 per $100 of valuation and cannot be raised.

The April 23 open house is set to take place from 6-8 p.m. at Station 24, 12073 Perry Road, Houston. Attendees can arrive at any point of the two-hour event, officials said.

Voters can cast ballots during early voting and on election day at the Cypress Creek Fire Department Administration Building, 11900 Cypress North Houston Road, Cypress. Early Voting will be available from April 22-26 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., April 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and April 29-30 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on election day, May 4.

A map of the district's boundaries can be found here.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

At the annual State of the County address Nov. 15, County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke on several initiatives launched in 2019, including criminal justice reform and emergency recovery, among other topics. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lina Hidalgo reflects on boundary-pushing first year in State of the County address

Early childhood development will be major focus of 2020, Hidalgo said.

Lead by Dr. Tania Mendoza Arthur, who is fluent in both English and Spanish and has more than 19 years of experience, the practice will offer preventative dentistry, dental implants, children’s dentistry, teeth whitening, dental bridges and extractions. (Courtesy OASIS Modern Dentistry)
Oasis Modern Dentistry to open in late November on Cypresswood Drive

Oasis Modern Dentistry plans to open in late November at 10211 Cypresswood Drive, Ste. 500, Houston.

Which Wich is coming soon to Cypress. (Courtesy Which Wich)
Which Wich plans to bring new location to Cypress

The shop will open by the end of 2019.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced several lane closures planned in the Cy-Fair area this weekend. (Courtesy Fotolia)
7 Hwy. 290 lane closures affecting Cy-Fair drivers this weekend, Nov. 15-17

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced the following lane closures planned along Hwy. 290 this weekend.

Nestle Tollhouse locations feature coffee drinks and bakery items. (Courtesy Nestle Tollhouse)
Nestle Tollhouse under new ownership at Hwy. 290 and Spring Cypress Road

The new owner said he has nearly 20 years of experience with the franchise.

Clayton Dean, Cole Greenberg, Luke Thompson, Drue Hirth, Elliott Jones and JT Tackett signed letters of intent Nov. 13 at Cypress Christian School. (Courtesy Cypress Christian School)
Cypress Christian School holds first National Signing Day event

Cypress Christian School seniors were celebrated on National Signing Day as they committed to participating in athletics as college freshmen in 2020-21.

Boatman Construction of Tomball received the family-owned Small Business of the Year award from Lone Star College-Small Business Development Center. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College announces 6 local Small Business of the Year awards at ceremony in The Woodlands

The Lone Star College Small Business Development Center presented awards to six north Houston-area local businesses at a Nov. 13 luncheon.

Stacia Carew was name Rowe Middle School's inaugural principal. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD announces inaugural principal for Rowe Middle School

Officials with Cy-Fair ISD named Bleyl Middle School Principal Stacia Carew the first principal for Rowe Middle School.

Cypress North Houston Road is being widened between Greenhouse Road and Barker Trace Drive. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Road widening underway on recently built section of Cypress North Houston Road

The stretch of road is being widening after being built in 2016.

In a split 3-2 vote, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of legislation requiring universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales, at its Nov. 12 meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)
In split vote, Harris County approves resolution supporting universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales

The nonbinding resolution's passing demonstrated the court's support of legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales in the state, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Ahead of the Dec. 14 mayoral runoff election for the city of Houston, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman announced plans Nov. 12 to move the county’s ballot box collection center to a more centralized location in hopes of expediting election result returns. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County clerk to move ballot box collection center to centralized location in effort to expedite election result returns

Ahead of the Dec. 14 mayoral runoff election for the city of Houston, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman announced plans Nov. 12 to move the county’s ballot box collection center to a more centralized location in hopes of expediting election result returns.

One of the major themes found in the report was a nearly 24-year range in average lifespan that varied across the county from as low as 65 years to as high as 89 years. According to the report, the Memorial/Bear Creek area has the highest average lifespan, while the East Little York/Settegast area has the lowest. (Courtesy Harris County Public Health)
Benchmark study reveals 24-year lifespan variance, high obesity rates and limited health care access across Harris County

A study by Harris County Public Health found life expectancy in Harris County alone varies by nearly 24 years depending on where a resident lives.

Back to top